Safety at Our Borders

The Department of Homeland Security has among its top mandates the duty to protect our national borders. That has proven a lot more difficult than building a fence. The Department's job is to secure the country's air, land, and sea borders. They must prevent illegal activity and, still, enable lawful trade and travel. Homeland Security targets three areas:

  1. U.S. air, land, and sea points of entry;
  2. Lawful trade and travel; and
  3. Transnational criminal and terrorist organizations.

You see some of their work at your local airport, at border crossings to and from Canada, and along the fence at the US Mexican border. But, the duty and operation is far more complex and extensive than what you can see. The daily work is assigned to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and their job is to design and implement the Tactical Infrastructure (TI) necessary. And, their work is complicated by the requirement to work with the public, local governments, environmental impact observers, and the like. So, it is not so easy to just build a fence.

If the CBP is to keep terrorists from entering the country with weapons - while still allowing trade and travelers - they are also positioned and expected to prevent traffic in smuggled goods, criminal activity, agricultural contagion, and narcotics. And, this they do at 327 formal ports of entry.

  • Need for qualified personnel: Obviously, it is not hard for the Border Patrol to be spread thin. The borders are long and complicated, the terrain varied and challenging. Sufficient vigilance requires numbers and intelligence in rapid response. Anyone with experience or education in criminal justice can find a stable and promising career in the field.
  • Intelligence integration: Among the lessons learned on 9/11 was the failure of existing agencies to share and integrate their intelligence. As transnational criminal and terrorist threats evolve, the CBP can only stay ahead with timely, well-framed, and credible information. The division needs people able to mine data for the actionable information by staying on top of the technology or able to partner with international security interests along the borders.
  • Risk management: The security we have enjoyed is largely the result of the CBP throwing its resources at the threats. Considering that there has not been a credibly executed threat in the years since 9/11, you can see that the personnel, technology, and infrastructure have worked. However, continued success lies in the department's ability to assess and manage risk. You can see the need to predict and prevent.
  • Targeted enforcement: It makes sense to accept that, if you can disrupt transcontinental criminal activity, you can reduce threats of violence, corruption, and terrorism. So, while the CBP has to recruit and train Americans to preemptive and mobile response, it first needs to create an infrastructure to facilitate detection capability through biometrics, drone surveillance, night vision devices, and so on.

The Department of Homeland Security's section on Customs and Border Patrol offers a rare and attractive job opportunity for those who are equipped for the challenge. There are unique physical demands, intelligence requirements, and technology savvy. They are looking for people with studies in criminal justice or related work from a college or homeland security online degree programs. Work in service to your country should be a good enough motive to apply!

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